Bob Amster

Principal, Retail Technology Group

Mr. Amster has served the retail and distribution industries as both a Consultant and Systems Manager since 1971. He currently heads The Retail Technology Group, an independent consulting firm.

Bob was a Senior Manager with the Northeast Retail Consulting Group of Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr. Amster held Systems Management positions for large retailers such as Kmart Apparel, Waldenbooks, and Caldor. In addition, he has consulted to retail, distribution, and software companies since 1985.

Bob’s hands-on experience encompasses strategic planning; operational reviews; and systems design and implementation. He specializes in needs assessments; software analyses, selection and implementation; operational procedures and process improvement; and systems integration. His project experience includes numerous engagements in the evaluation, selection and implementation of merchandising, financial, warehouse and store systems packages.

Additionally, Bob has served as interim head of IT for Barneys New York and Shane Company, and as interim head of the Store Systems Group for Savers, Inc.

Bob also has provided due diligence assistance to a number of private equity firms and has served the advisory board of retailers and of a number of e-commerce merchants, to whom he provided retail industry perspective.

  • Posted on: 08/20/2019

    Is technology really making stores more like the web?

    If I were a retailer, I would try not to make the stores feel like an online experience but instead to introduce the type of technology into the stores the reduces friction, makes the total experience smoother, and automates menial tasks while simultaneously introducing more of an entertainment factor into the shopping experience. Let us not forget that "ship from store" existed in the better stores 100 years ago. It was called a "send sale" and there was no technology of which to speak involved in the process. It just took a lot longer...
  • Posted on: 08/15/2019

    Is it time for retailers to tier up their loyalty/reward programs?

    Among certain segments of the retail industry, and specific brands within that segment, there is an aspirational aspect to these programs. If the program is properly conceived and designed, multiple tiers (no more than three, please) can be successful in increasing the value of any and all customers.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Is Nike’s new subscription program for kids a parent’s best friend?

    I found that certain (few) shoe brands fit me perfectly. If Nike fits the child perfectly, then the worry is over; stick to the brand that fits you best. If the subscription model removes the need to always be replacing children's shoes, then this plan will stick, but only with those customers that fit the two criteria. I am sure that Nike is not for everyone.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2019

    Can Victoria’s Secret recover from its founder’s past relationship with Jeffrey Epstein?

    The response depends on whether there was actually illicit behavior on the part of Wexner, the photographers in question, or other Victoria's Secret staffers. If there was not, you say so and express your disappointment in Epstein and the rest. If there was, you can either fess up and go hide for the rest of your life with your millions, or you deny, deny, deny, deny. I would have thought that Les Wexner was a better man than is alleged. I hope I am right.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Has the starting point of customer journeys moved?

    Triggers are a complex topic. What is a trigger for one consumer may be completely ignored by another. That is why we have professionals called behaviorists and psychoanalysts. They study human behavior and may be able to determine - on an individual basis - who is triggered to act by what stimulus.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Will the next big thing since Starbucks be run by robots?

    The positives are that it will be consistent service and fast (unless long lines begin forming at the stand). The negatives are that it will be a limited menu that can be served this way and the customer with more time and appetite may want to pick from a wider assortment and sit down at a table. Echoes of the Automat by Horn & Hardart...
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    Can an e-tail startup establish a physical presence using hi-tech vending units?

    If nobody told me that vending machines for e-tail-only brands were out on display, I probably would not find out. However, social media has a way to spread the word around to younger generations and, therefore, may facilitate the publicity required to use the vending machines. it's akin to "what if they threw a part and nobody came?"
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    What are the signs of a dying retail business?

    Indicative signs are: declining traffic without a corresponding increase in basket size, inability to meet the debt service, need for special sales in order to boost foot traffic, and declining chatter on social media.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2019

    Amazon kills its Dash button – what comes next?

    What is this thing you call "memory?" Does it come in a jar?
  • Posted on: 08/02/2019

    Gen Z gets creative online

    Can Gen Z build a tree house? Its own physical toys? Do they know what an erector set is? Creativity is actually relative to the times in which we live. I would more compare Gen Z to the great composers of the 18th and 19th century. They were VERY creative, just 300-200 years ago!
  • Posted on: 08/02/2019

    Amazon kills its Dash button – what comes next?

    So, Amazon piloted, experimented with, and killed the Dash Button. I never owned one so I won't miss it. Some things are just not that life-changing that one should have one, but businesses with deep pockets (and small profits) can take the liberty to experiment and see what works. As long as the decision to desist does not have a negative PR consequence, the world will forget. Reordering technology has to be designed carefully. One can scan UPC barcodes into an app and reorder is simple. But if one discards the item BEFORE scanning the app, there has to be a way to recall the item from history and re-order it that way. More sophisticated ways could include learning a household's patterns of consumption and recommending re-orders and waiting for approval, or automatically re-ordering. Finally, the best method would be for the app to read my mind...
  • Posted on: 08/01/2019

    Has dynamic pricing hit a rut?

    I have always believed that dynamic pricing online can only help to confuse, frustrate, and disappoint the consumer. However.the ability to simply change prices for a limited period of time - to offer Kmart's old Blue Light Special - online and in-store is an important feature that generates excitement and may boost sales, without the three negatives above.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2019

    Should Simon Property Group bail out (invest in) more retail tenants?

    This type of investment is in the best interest of mall operators IF the retail chain had shown signs of being viable with an influx of capital and rent relief. Since not all failing retailers are in that position, for mall operators to invest in them is not a cure-all. Do your due diligence!
  • Posted on: 07/31/2019

    Are store robots cute, creepy – or nearly useless?

    The easiest task for which to deploy in-store robots is inventory replenishment and cleaning the floors.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2019

    Who will seize the opportunity to turn stores into fulfillment centers?

    Using stores as distribution hubs will work for some retailers and definitely not for others. There was a time when retailers wanted as much selling space as possible, as opposed to storage space, and back rooms suffered. There is an increased complexity in logistics and, specifically, in inventory management with the number of locations. That is one of the reasons that retailers have relied on distribution centers; to be able to ship to where the product was truly needed as opposed to committing to where they thought it should be. The more granular the number of hubs, the more carefully inventory has to be managed to prevent overstocks in the wrong places. Doable? Yes! Easily? No!

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